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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Types of inspection: Tribunal approval

You may ask the tribunal to approve an inspection

  • of business premises, see CH25180,
  • of premises, see CH25180, used in connection with the supply of goods under taxable supplies, the acquisition of goods from other member States under taxable acquisitions or fiscal warehousing,
  • of the business premises of an involved third party, see CH25360, and
  • for the purpose of valuing a premises, but see CH25380 for extra safeguards in addition to those mentioned below.

Applications for approval may be made ‘without notice’. This means that any person affected is not told about the hearing.

The tribunal can approve an inspection only where

  • they are asked by, or with the agreement of, an authorised officer, see CH21720, and
  • they are satisfied that, in the circumstances, the inspection is justified.

You should normally seek tribunal approval where you expect or have already met objection to your inspection. A penalty is chargeable if a tribunal approved inspection is obstructed, see CH26240.

You may ask for the tribunal’s approval of any sort of inspection - 7-day notice, short notice or unannounced. Whatever sort of visit they approve that is the type you must carry out. You cannot change types once the tribunal has given approval.

A short notice inspection is one where less than seven days notice is given to the person but it is not unannounced.

If you intend to issue a taxpayer notice, see CH23060, to be complied with at an inspection of premises and you want the inspection notice approved by the tribunal, you should also seek approval for the taxpayer notice. This avoids appeals being made against the notice or any of its requirements where the tribunal has already given permission for the inspection to take place.

There is no right of appeal against an inspection notice and no right of appeal against a tribunal decision to approve the notice. The tribunal’s decision to approve the notice or not is final. Any challenge to a tribunal approved notice would be through an application for judicial review.